March 17—In the wake of COVID-19 outbreaks in Amazon warehouses, a global alliance of unions is calling on the company to take a series of urgent measures to protect workers and their communities.
The alliance, coordinated by UNI Global Union, is making these demands as workers in Italy are striking and workers in Spain are filing complaints to make the company fulfil its legal and ethical obligations to provide a safe workplace.
Christy Hoffmann, General Secretary of UNI Global Union said “Amazon workers are on the front lines of this crisis. Amazon is facing increased demand as families around the world prepare to stay home, and with that increased demand comes increase risk for workers. Workers are doing their part, but Amazon is failing to abide by safety rules set by governments in Spain and Italy once again putting profits over people. Amazon needs to negotiate with unions to ensure worker safety and smoothly functioning supply chains.”
Italian Amazon workers are on strike in Castel San Giovanni (Piacenza) and announced a “state of agitation” in facilities in Piedmont and Passo Corese near Rome over unsafe conditions. Already, Amazon warehouse employees have tested positive for COVID-19.
Italian Union CGIL claims that Amazon is not fully adhering to COVID-19 protocols jointly negotiated between trade unions and the government.
Tania Scacchetti, Confederal Secretary of CGIL, said “Amazon workers are mobilizing for their health as the e-commerce multinational continues to fail to provide the right protection. The company puts productivity and profit before safeguarding the personal safety of its employees.”
After confirmed coronavirus cases in Amazon warehouses in Barcelona and Madrid, Spanish union Comisiones Obreras (CC.OO) has filed a complaint with authorities in Barcelona over Amazon’s response to the outbreak.
Additionally, in the United States the company has been rapidly hiring workers to fill growing demand. In the United Kingdom, workers are reportedly being forced to work overtime.
“Amazon is once again putting its own profits ahead of worker safety,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) and of UNI Global Commerce. “Jeff Bezos should remember that workers make Amazon run, and that his continued denial of workers' rights is inconsistent with effectively mitigating this crisis.”
Appelbaum is also the President of the Amazon Alliance.